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What should you look for if you want job security in the economy today, and in the future? Two keys would be to find a profession which is growing rapidly, and one which involves hands-on work which can't be readily outsourced. Medical assisting qualifies on both fronts.

If this kind of career interests you, then an online medical assistant degree program could give you the educational background you need. To help you decide, you should find out a little more about what medical assisting degrees consist of, and what medical assistants do in their jobs.

Online Medical Assistant Degree Programs: Know the basics

A medical assistant's job is part scientific and part administrative, and this mixture is reflected in the range of courses that might be part of a medical assisting associate degree program. Coursework may cover some or all of the following areas:

  • Anatomy
  • Basic accounting
  • Clinical procedures
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • First aid
  • Insurance processing
  • Keyboarding
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Medical law and ethics
  • Medical terminology
  • Medication administration
  • Office practices
  • Patient relations
  • Pharmaceutical principals
  • Physiology
  • Recordkeeping
  • Transcription

Medical assistants come from a variety of backgrounds. Some learn through on the job training, others simply earn a certificate from a vocational school, while still others have an associate degree in medical assisting. Earning a formal degree can make you more competitive in the job market. Also, the more you learn about the field, the more different job functions you will be able to perform.

Careers for medical assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for medical assistants is strong. As of May 2014, there were 584,970 medical assistants employed in the United States, earning an average annual income of $31,220. The number of jobs for medical assistants is expected to grow to 723,700 by 2022. This represents a much faster growth rate than is expected for the job market as a whole, and reflects a few trends that medical assisting has in its favor. 

Nearly two-thirds of medical assistants work in doctor's offices. Other employment environments might include hospitals, inpatient and outpatient facilities, and the offices of health care providers such as chiropractors and optometrists.

Medical assistants perform the basic, day-to-day tasks that help medical facilities operate efficiently. Duties vary from employer to employer, but they tend to break down into two broad categories:

  • Administrative tasks: These may include greeting and directing patients, answering telephones, making appointments, filling out paperwork, and handling correspondence.
  • Clinical tasks: These include taking medical histories, recording vital signs, facilitating lab tests, and sterilizing medical instruments.

Sources

"Medical Assistants," Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, June 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319092.htm

"Medical Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm

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